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When an individual in the north-east tests positive for COVID, they’re referred to the North East Metro Health Service Partnership (NEM HSP) COVID Positive Pathways Program, which Austin Health leads, for support and assistance.
“It’s to keep people with COVID safe and well at home to avoid having to come to hospital,” NEM HSP COVID Positive Pathways Operations Lead, Brynn Lewin, says.
A patient’s condition is first assessed, and an appropriate care pathway is identified based on their clinical risk, severity of illness and social needs.
They are required to enter their symptoms via text which are monitored by a health team.
If symptoms worsen, the patient is contacted by a clinician for assessment and to determine what treatment is appropriate.
The health team will also contact the patient if they fail to enter their symptoms.
“The fundamental pillar of the program is the patient’s ability to self-report symptoms and receive the care they need based on their symptoms, and to get the care they need if they are unable to report symptoms due to cultural or language barriers by having experts reach out to them,” Brynn says.
The program also addresses the problems that COVID causes, including accessing food, essential items or caregiving during quarantine and isolation.
“We partner with a lot of community health services for social welfare support,” Brynn says.
The program was supporting 8000 patients at the peak of lockdown six and about 5000 patients last week.
“The commitment and the desire, the drive for good care for these people, is pulsating throughout every aspect of the pathways program,” Brynn says.
“People are really excited about this model of care - the best place to be cared for is at home.
“The ability to engage in a really unobstructive way through texts and have links with experts without having to leave home, I think is a huge highlight of the pathways.”
As the state starts to ease restrictions, Brynn believes many patients will still require access to the program.